Catholic school sexual education leads to climactic revelations

January 30, 2014

If you attend a Catholic school, it makes a statement that extends far beyond the quality of your primary education. It’s a cultural statement. Whether you accept Catholicism or not today, if you attended a Catholic school, for at least a part of your life, Catholicism played a role in defining how you think—especially about sexuality. The question is whether it did more harm than good.

As a product of Catholic grade school, the topic of human sexuality holds a provocative allure for me. For most of my adolescent life, sex saturated my religious education. On almost a daily basis my teachers would share interesting sex survival skills with my classmates and I that were essential for the formation of upstanding Christian teenagers. For example, ladies, did you know that you will become allergic to the sperm of any other man than the first one you had sex with? Well, that’s the gospel truth, so you best close those legs tight.

Looking back, it seems hard to believe that I ever believed statements like that, but how was I to know any better? My eighth grade science teacher literally ripped the reproduction chapter out of my text book.  In fact, my formal sex education in middle school consisted of nothing more than a half-day chat with my school principal, whose qualifications to teach sex-ed didn’t extend much further than her sense of moral highground.

She started by placing the girls and boys in separate classrooms just to ensure that she could customize her education sessions according to proper gender roles. She then played a video of a zealous woman who declared that no excuse existed that could justify premarital sex and that women who engaged in premarital sex might as well have “whore” tattooed on their foreheads. The day concluded with a good, old-fashioned scare session filled with tales of the woe that befell those foolish enough to jump the gun and take a roll in the hay without a priest’s permission. She definitely learned me.

After being educated in this environment, by the time I entered high school I was sex-obsessed. According to what I’d been taught in school, once sex came into my life, my former, pure self would die, replaced by a lesser being. I lived in constant fear of defilement, and I took solace in the fact that, as long as I remained a virgin before I got married, I retained value in God’s eyes.

Catholic grade schools need to realize that their scare tactics are not only ineffective in preventing premarital sex, but create an unhealthy relationship between young people and their own sexuality and leave them miserably unprepared to function in our sexualized society.

Catholic sexual ethics do not in themselves damage adolescents’ understandings of sex and sexuality. That being said, Catholic views of sexuality and sexual education are not the same, and these topics need to exist separately in Catholic schools. Catholic sexual ethics tie sex to spirituality and to religious practice, but faith should not be the only factor that informs an individual’s understanding of sex.

While Catholicism’s teaching that sex is a gift from God reserved for “the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life” is central to Catholic understanding of sexual morality, this idea does not constitute sex education. The fact remains that, if you have unprotected sex, you can contract a whole slew of STDs or become pregnant unexpectedly. These realities hold true for Christians and non-Christians alike and, by omitting this type of education from the classroom to ensure seamless indoctrination, Catholic educators have done a great disservice to their students.

If Catholic educators feel that the presentation of the facts of sex pose a threat to sexual morality, perhaps Catholic sexual ethics are not worth defending. Excluding facts in order to serve your own purposes is lying by omission and ,the last time I checked, bearing false witness ranks right up there in the top ten Catholic no-no’s.

It took me years to recover from my middle school experience and it actually wasn’t until I came to college that I understood having sex will not change who I am. I don’t dispute that sex is a powerful expression of emotion between two individuals, but an individual’s decision to engage in sex does not determine his or her value as a human.

Thankfully, my understanding of sex has developed enough that I can see myself beyond my sexuality, and I have moved beyond the damage of my grade school years.

Back in high school when I looked in the mirror, I saw a virgin and I clung to her. Now I see a woman and, goddamn, I am hot.

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Your entire thesis fell apart in the last sentence when you blasphemed. Clinging to virginity got many saints to Heaven. Sounds like a good deal to me.


what about saints like St. Augustine and St. Ignatius who screwed around until they were good and ready? Sounds like a better deal to me.


Amen, sister!


Do you think Augustine or Ignatius would agree with you two?

Kim Jong Il